In contrast to the normal holiday festivities, this winter is quickly becoming characterized as a time of heightened concern over sexual misconduct. In particular, allegations of sexual assault against popular media figures such as Jian Ghomeshi and Bill Cosby have drawn sharp focus in Toronto, and all 20 provincial universities in Ontario recently announced new measures for dealing with on-campus sexual assault.Sexual assault charges arise from a variety of situations. Sometimes allegations refer to workplace or dating relationships; other times the accuser doesn't know the accused; in other cases, the charges refer to incidents that allegedly happened years ago.What is certain is that accused individuals should seek help from a criminal defence lawyer who can examine the evidence and develop a defence strategy, as the consequences of a conviction are very serious.The holiday season may be of particular concern because many festivities and social gatherings during this time of year involve the consumption of alcohol and fall outside the scope of routine behavior. Office parties, for instance, provide an opportunity for co-workers to loosen up and enjoy each other's company in a non-official capacity. However, misunderstandings in these situations can lead to allegations of sexual misconduct and sometimes to sexual assault charges.An interesting article in the Toronto Star underscores these issues.When charges of sexual assault do arise, typically pretrial investigation is important to protect the rights of the accused and arrive at the facts of the matter. After all, not everyone accused sexual assault is guilty.